Source description last updated: 2 March 2020

In brief: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is a Washington, D.C.-based organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) mandated to promote and protect human rights in the Americas.

Coverage on

Annual Reports, Country Reports, Thematic Reports

Covered quarterly on for countries of priorities A and B1.


“The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity” and was “created by the OAS in 1959”. Together with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights […], installed in 1979, the Commission is one of the institutions within the inter-American system for the protection of human rights (‘IAHRS’).” (IACHR website: What is the IACHR?, undated)

In fulfilling its mandate, the IACHR, amongst others:

“a)     Receives, analyzes, and investigates individual petitions that allege violations of human rights, with respect to both the Member States of the OAS that have ratified the American Convention, and those Member States that have not ratified it.

  1. b)     Observes the general situation of human rights in the Member States and publishes special reports on the situation in a given Member State when it considers it appropriate.  
  2. c)     Makes on-site visits to Member States to conduct an in-depth analysis of the general situation and/or to investigate a specific situation.  In general, these visits give rise to the preparation of a report on the human rights situation observed, which is published and presented to the Permanent Council and General Assembly of the OAS.” (IACHR website: Introduction, undated)


The IACHR receives regular funds that are approved by the OAS General Assembly as well as specific funds in the form of contributions from OAS member states (IACHR: Annual Report 2017, pp. 888-890).

Scope of reporting:

Geographic scope: North, Central and South America

Thematic scope: issues related to human rights, including “access to justice; the effects of internal armed conflicts on certain groups; the human rights situation of children, women, migrant workers and their families, persons deprived of liberty, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, Afro descendants, […] freedom of expression; citizen security and terrorism and their link with human rights” (IACHR website: Introduction, undated)


The Rules and Procedures of the IACHR state that in preparing the country-specific chapters of its annual reports (chapters IV and V), the IACHR shall use “reliable and credible information” including “official acts […]; information gathered in the course of on‐site visits by the Commission, its Rapporteurs and members of its staff […]; information obtained during hearings held by the Commission as part of its sessions; conclusions of other international human rights bodies […]; human rights reports issued by governments and regional organs; reports by civil society organizations” and media reports” (IACHR: Rules of Procedure of the Inter‐American Commission on Human Rights, Article 59)

IACHR Annual Reports primarily draw on public sources, which include previous IACHR publications (see, for example, IACHR: Annual Report 2018 - Chapter IV.B Cuba, 2019 and IACHR: Annual Report 2018 - Chapter IV.B Nicaragua, 2019), while Country Reports and Thematic Reports include direct references to findings from on-site visits to the relevant country and frequently refer to oral sources (IACHR: Gross Human Rights Violations in the Context of Social Protests in Nicaragua, 21 June 2018, IACHR: Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, 31 December 2017 and IACHR – Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Pan-Amazon Region, 29 September 2019).

Languages of publication:

English and Spanish

All links accessed 2 March 2020